BOSTON, Mass – The PGA Tour announced a series of aggressive moves to try to stop the damage caused by the LIV Golf league with a plan for the best players to commit to a 20-tournament schedule in which they will compete against one another up to 17 times for average purses of $20 million.
The PGA Tour is increasing its bonus pool in the Player Impact Program to $100 million covering 20 players, and it’s changing the criteria so it’s geared more toward media exposure.
New players starting out their careers will get $500,000 at the start of the year that will count against their earnings until the number is surpassed.
“This isn’t some sort of renegade group trying to take some sort of power grab of the PGA Tour,” said Rory McIlroy, a player-director on the Tour Board. “This is, ‘OK, how can we make this tour better for everyone that’s going to play on it now and everyone that’s going to play on the PGA Tour going forward?’ ”
PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan announced the sweeping changes one day before start of the 2022 FedEx Cup Tour Championship at East Lake Golf Club, in Atlanta (GA). The most significant change was what came out of a private meeting of 23 top players last week that will put more money in their bank accounts by guaranteeing the best players compete in the same tournaments more often.
“Those players rallied together to strengthen the tour platform, recognizing that if fans are going to invest in the PGA Tour, it means a hell of a lot more if they know the players are investing right back,” Jay Monahan said.
The 20-tournament commitment starts in January 2023 with the Sentry Tournament of Champions at Kapalua and assumes top players are eligible.
Most of the key tournaments already were in place: the Genesis Invitational at Riviera, the Arnold Palmer Invitational at Bay Hill, the Memorial, Kapalua, Match Play, the three FedEx Cup playoff events, the four majors, and The Players Championship.
Players also would be required to play three other tournaments during the FedEx Cup season. That would throw out a lifeline to tournaments that otherwise would have a hard time attracting top players.
“When I tune in to a Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, I expect to see Tom Brady throw a football. When I tune in to a Formula One race, I expect to see Lewis Hamilton in a car,” McIlroy said. “I think what came out of the meeting last week is the fact that we’ve all made a commitment to get together more often to make the product more compelling.”
The changes came quickly and it culminated with a players-only meeting involving 23 top players at the BMW Championship. Tiger Woods flew to Delaware from his home in Florida for the meeting. Woods and McIlroy are seen as the leaders of change among players, though all accounts indicate the majority of them were behind the changes.
“I think the one thing that has happened over the years is we all are our own little independent businesses,” McIlroy said. ‘’I think this is the first time in a long time where we sort of all sat down and were like, ‘Let’s try to be business partners.’
“How can we all pull in the same direction here to benefit everyone and to help the entire tour and to help each other?”
The “top players” who commit to the 20-tournament schedule are defined by the Player Impact Program. The program was to pay the leading 10 players from a $50 million bonus pool, with the standings based largely on Q-rating and social media. Now it’s for 20 players worth $100 million, with metrics such as TV exposure, fan awareness, and media mentions.
At this week’s season-ending Tour Championship, the winner of the FedEx Cup gets $18 million. Next week before the LIV Golf Invitational Boston event Sept. 2-4 a new batch of PGA Tour players are likely to join LIV for the Labor Day weekend and 54-hole, no cut and $25 million purse.